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review 2018-10-22 19:30
Normal People by Sally Rooney
Normal People - Sally C. Rooney

I fell in love with Rooney after reading Conversations with Friends. I’ve read a lot of good books this year, but this one had something special about it. The fact that it (and this) was set in Ireland, where I’m from and reside, is just another reason it was so special.

 

The story follows Marianne and Connell who know each other from school, even though they don’t interact there. At school Marianne is seen as a bit strange and this is the key factor in Connell not telling anyone when they strike up a relationship.

 

The narrative, written in third-person multiple, follows Marianne and Connell throughout the next few years when they go to University and have an on-again-off-again relationship.

 

The strength of the author lies in her ability to write flawed, authentic characters who the reader cares deeply for, regardless of the mistakes they make. Her pacing is also a strength, never too much or too little given away. It’s not hard to see why Rooney was on the longlist for the Booker, although I found her debut to be stronger. While the characters were expertly crafted, I did feel there was a little too much similarity between them and those from her debut, no more so than their political beliefs. While I agree with much the author states in regards to politics, that kind of rhetoric always feels forced. It can also come off as a little preachy, but luckily it wasn’t overdone. Another thing is when novels are mentioned in a narrative, like what a character’s reading. This always comes off as a bit pretentious, even though I do find it interesting as it adds to a character’s depth.

 

I feel like I’m being unfair to the novel by essentially picking it apart. I did still really like it, it just felt a bit similar to her debut.

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text 2018-09-25 19:59
Reading progress update: I've read 21%.
Normal People - Sally C. Rooney

The authors debut novel, Conversations with Friends, is one of my favourites I've read this year, so regardless of Bingo, I felt physically compelled to read it her latest effort. I couldn't look at it just sitting on my kindle anymore! I'm not going for a blackout in bingo anyhow and this is very short at just over 200 pages, so I decided to go for it. I can happily say that it's excellent already. It's about two young people and charts their relationship from school to University. Another bonus, it's set in Dublin, just 200 miles from me.

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text 2018-08-28 09:25
Reading progress update: I've read 2%. - I should stay silent but...
Normal People - Sally C. Rooney

...removing quotation marks around direct speech is not innovative or doing something daring with form. It's annoying and discourteous to the reader. 

 

I know that makes me sound like the grammar police but punctuation serves a purpose.

 

You'll be reminded of its purpose when you read a novel like this that ostentatiously leaves out quotation marks. Your reading slows down. You have to work harder to know not just who is speaking but whether anyone is speaking.

 

This is the writing equivalent of Brexit: I can see what it destroys but I don't see any benefits or any compelling reason to do it.

 

Rant over. I'll go back to the book now. Which is quite good by the way.

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review 2018-07-04 19:46
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
Conversations with Friends - Sally C. Rooney

I read this book for a new book club, one that I didn’t end up going to! I’m still a member of the classic book club, but they’re on a summer break right now.

 

This is the story of two University students, Frances and Bobbie who become entangled with an older, married couple, Melissa and Nick. Melissa is a journalist and spots Bobbie and Frances preforming open-mic poetry together and wants to write a piece on them. They spend time together, along with Melissa’s husband, to formulate the piece and become friends during the process.

 

The novel is written from the point of view of Frances, a very introverted, intelligent young woman, who proclaims herself to be unemotional and flat. Her friend Bobbie is in many ways her opposite, fiery, impulsive and often overtly emotional. The two make a fantastic pairing.

 

Frances is a communist and they both have very clear views about society and its structure, often informed by Bobbie’s degree, Anthropology. If you’re worried it’s overly preachy, don’t be, discussions that take this line happen seldomly. There are some rather heated exchanges, but these are fleeting and take a back seat to the dynamics of the relationships. It did sometimes feel like the author was trying to impart her views, but it wasn’t too much to be distracting.

 

The novel was mostly about relationships related to the nature of the self and finding oneself. Bobbie was so often trying to pass herself off as one thing when she clearly wasn’t. She would say something contrived, instead of how she really felt and had a deep discomfort with herself that oozed from the pages, the main reason I loved it so much. I’ve never read a character that felt more real than Frances. It was like I knew her and what she wanted better than she did, even if she couldn't communicate it to anyone else.

 

I can see why this novel wouldn’t be for everyone. Some could find it overindulgent, the pair preachy and immature. I, however, loved it and just wish it had gone on longer.

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text 2018-06-18 15:23
Reading progress update: I've read 99%.
Conversations with Friends - Sally C. Rooney

I closed my eyes. Things and people moved around me, taking positions in obscure hierarchies, participating in systems I didn't know about and never would. A complex network of objects and concepts. You live through certain things before you understand them. You can't always take the analytical position.

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